Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 1642–1653 | Cite as

Assessment of occupational exposure to pesticide mixtures with endocrine-disrupting activity

  • Hie Ling WongEmail author
  • David G. Garthwaite
  • Carmel T. Ramwell
  • Colin D. Brown
Research Article


Occupational exposure to pesticide mixtures comprising active substance(s) and/or co-formulant(s) with known/possible endocrine-disrupting activity was assessed using long-term activity records for 50 professional operators representing arable and orchard cropping systems in Greece, Lithuania, and the UK. Exposure was estimated using the harmonised Agricultural Operator Exposure Model, and risk was quantified as a point of departure index (PODI) using the lowest no observed (adverse) effect level. Use of substances with known/possible endocrine activity was common, with 43 of the 50 operators applying at least one such active substance on more than 50% of spray days; at maximum, one UK operator sprayed five such active substances and 10 such co-formulants in a single day. At 95th percentile, total exposure was largest in the UK orchard system (0.041 × 10−2 mg kg bw−1 day−1) whereas risk was largest in the Greek cropping systems (PODI 0.053 × 10−1). All five cropping systems had instances indicating potential for risk when expressed at a daily resolution (maximum PODI 1.2–10.7). Toxicological data are sparse for co-formulants, so combined risk from complex mixtures of active substances and co-formulants may be larger in reality.


Professional operator Active substance Co-formulant Combined effect Risk Regulation 



The authors gratefully acknowledge sponsorship of this research by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia, and the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3676_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (459 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 459 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environment DepartmentUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Earth ScienceUniversity Malaysia KelantanJeliMalaysia
  3. 3.Fera Science Ltd. (Fera)Sand HuttonYorkUK

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